Happy Birthday Sunil Chhetri! 30 facts about India’s football captain
India captain Sunil Chhetri turned 30 today and Sportskeeda celebrates the occasion by listing 30 facts about the star striker.
1. Sunil was born to Kharga and Sushila Chettri in Secundarabad on August 3 1984. Being the son of an army officer, as a kid Sunil had to move to different cities often but he refers to New Delhi as his hometown.
2. He studied at Bahai School in Gangtok, Bethany’s in Darjeeling, Loyola School in Kolkata, and Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan in New Delhi.
3. Chhetri took admission at Ashutosh College in Kolkata, but gave up studies when he was in Class 12 after getting a chance to represent India at the Asian School Championships in Malaysia in October 2001.
4. He has played for ten different clubs so far with the first being Delhi-based City Club, whom he joined as a 17-year-old. He has also represented Delhi in the Santosh Trophy.
5. His first big move came in 2002, when he joined Mohun Bagan, spending three seasons there. It was a great learning experience, as he was playing in front of big crowds and in high pressure matches as a teenager.
6. Chhetri played for various age group teams of India, including the U-20 side at the SAF Games in 2004, but his first senior international goal came in a tour of Pakistan in 2005.
7. Although his spell at Mohun Bagan was a great experience for Chhetri, it was at JCT under Sukhwinder Singh that he established himself as one of the best strikers in the country. He joined the Punjab-based club in 2005 and spent three memorable years there.
8. There were many important performances at JCT including his display against Brazilian side Sao Paulo in the Super Soccer Series in 2007. But his form in the 2006-07 National Football League (NFL) stands out, as he scored 12 goals to guide JCT to a runners-up finish and was adjudged the NFL Player of the Year.
9. That impressive season saw Chhetri win the AIFF player of the year award in 2007, a year in which he also helped the Indian national team win the Nehru Cup under Bob Houghton. It was his first honour with the national team.
10. By 2008, Chhetri was already being hailed as the next big thing in Indian football and on August 13 that year, he confirmed that status by scoring a hat-trick in the AFC Challenge Cup 2008 final against Tajikistan. The treble came at Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium with the triumph seeing India qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup.